WHEN A WOMAN LOVES A MAN AND OTHER POEMS

David Lehman, Author . Scribner $17 (144p) ISBN 978-0-7432-5594-3

Lehman's latest amply demonstrates his formal and prosodic range as well as his unstinting loyalty to the tones, predispositions, prejudices and forms of the New York School of poets, particularly Ashbery, O'Hara and Koch. The autobiographical "Wittgenstein's Ladder," "In Freud's House" and "The Code of Napoleon" are distinctive, Mel Brooks–like summations of their subjects, foregrounding Lehman's strengths as a writer—his humor, compact and direct syntax and easy musicality—simply by presenting them through the prism of historical subject matter: "He's the shortest man in the room, the only one who thinks / He is Adolf Hitler. Everyone else is Napoleon." "Jew You" features a litany of slanders gut-wrenching in their pain and humor, and it ends on a nice twist: "...and when Lionel Trilling asked Allen Ginsberg why he, a fellow Jew, / had written 'fuck the Jews' in his dorm room window, / Ginsberg sighed: 'It's very complicated.' Now there was a Jew." Lehman cannot "take wing" the way his hero-poets did in the '50s not only because he lacks the spirit of the enigma – the Surrealist aspect of New York School hijinks eludes him – but simply because he doesn't seem to like his time very much. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 04/04/2005
Release date: 04/01/2005
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 144 pages - 978-1-4165-8487-2
Prebound-Sewn - 978-1-4177-2108-5
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